TRAVEL  NEWS

NEW  HAVEN 

One of the picture perfect postcard towns in the United States is New Haven. Norman Rockwell would have felt right at home with his paints and easel here. With its tree-lined streets and old houses make this an extraordinary place to experience. Not only is it particularly pretty there are many things to see. There is no better place for a cultural experience than the quaint commercial districts, serene residential streets, the famous New Haven Green, and landmarks of American history are only a few of the highlights of a place that has given the world the hamburger, the lollipop, the corkscrew, and the world’s best pizza. Get to know the New Haven community  and enjoy some of New Haven’s wonderful restaurants, shops, and galleries. 
And of course Yale University has been a part of the New Haven community for three centuries. The latest exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery is well worth the visit and children can be part of America’s history.  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery is an Exhibition Presented in Three Parts 

We the People
July 29–December 31, 2011 

Defining the Nation
January 31–April 8, 2012

America Rising
May 8–July 8, 2012

This exhibition draws upon the Gallery’s renowned collection of American art to illuminate the diverse and evolving American experience from the time of the settlements of the 17th century to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The works in this exhibition—including treasures such as John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence and Winslow Homer’s Morning Bell—return to New Haven for this three-part presentation.
The Yale University Art Gallery, is the oldest and one of the most important university art museums in America, in the final phase of a fourteen-year renovation and expansion that will transform the visitor’s experience of both the museum and its esteemed collections. The project will enable the Gallery not only to enhance its role as one of the nation’s most prominent teaching institutions but also to join the ranks of the country’s leading public art museums. The expanded Gallery will open December 12, 2012.

Besides the wonderful art exhibits the gift shop is perfect to leave with something special. The museum shop offers visitors a selection of books, cards, and posters that relate to the Center’s collections, as well as gifts from the United Kingdom.

Both a public art museum and a world-renowned research institute for the study of British art and culture, the Yale Center for British Art was presented to the University by Paul Mellon (Yale 1929). It houses the most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom.
The collection of paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, rare books, and manuscripts reflects the development of British art, life, and thought from the Elizabethan period onward. Works on view include masterpieces by John Constable, Benjamin West, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, and J.M.W. Turner, as well as major artists from Europe and America who lived and worked in Britain.
A valuable resource for faculty, students, teachers, and the public, the Center offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions and programs, including lectures, concerts, films, symposia, tours, teacher workshops, and more. The Center also houses a reference library, conservation laboratory, and study room for works on paper and rare books and manuscripts.
Opened in 1977, the Center is the last museum designed by the great American architect Louis Kahn. It stands across from Kahn's first major commission, the Yale University Art Gallery. The building's design, with its natural materials and skylit galleries, provides a magnificent environment for viewing art. Admission is free.

There is a varied selection of hotels and bed and breakfast so you have only to go on the web to find your choice. I stayed at The Omni Hotel a gem that as soon as you walk into the lobby the interior proclaims itself as something truly special. It has an irresistible blend of architectural perfection and distinctive artwork with the finest tradition of  hospitality. Every guest is special. This luxury hotel stands out for excellence in all things. The Hotel is also known for their fine dining of French cuisine in their formal dining room. 
The hotel is located in downtown New Haven, just steps from the historic campus of Yale University, the New Haven Town Green, a wide selection of museums, the Shubert Theater and boutique shopping. Enjoy breathtaking views from many of the guest rooms and from John Davenport's restaurant.  The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale is close to Union Station, home to Metro North and Amtrak Railway, and just fifty miles from Hartford's Bradley International Airport.
John Davenport’s at the Top of the Park premier, 19th-floor restaurant welcomes you in an upscale atmosphere with spectacular roof top views. Specializing in creative New England cuisine. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6am to 10pm.

New Haven is replete with art, architecture and history, with great shopping, a thriving nightlife and a program of festivals and events. It has this year 2012-13 won the distinction of being Arts & Leisure News Service favorite city in Connecticut.  Walking along the bluestone sidewalks of the Chapel Street Historic District there is a plethora of one of a kind boutiques and shops, award winning restaurants, and world known museums and theaters. 

One of the restaurants that is part of this distinction is the Heirloom Restaurant at 157 Chapel Street, located inside the Study at Yale Hotel on Chapel Street at the heart of Yale University Campus.  Heirloom utilizes the heritage growers and neighboring artisan suppliers of Connecticut and New England for Chef Carey Savona’s Farm Coastal cooking. Savona is passsionate about seasonality, independently creative and didicated to local, heritage cuisine. He earned his kitchen stripes working alongside some of the most talented chefs and restaurateaurs in the Country. Savona has lived and cooked in San Francisco, Connecticut, South Florida, and in New York City.

I started my dinner at the Heirloon with Roasted Octopus with lots of Garlic, Chilies and lime, with Oregano Citronette. And for my main course I had what I consider to be the very best Carolina Soft Shell Crabs, which was ideally served crispy and  perfect with lemon, fennel, tomato, spring greens and creole remoulade. It was a perfect place with a wonderful menu and Arts & Leisure News  gives Heirloon five stars. *****

The Maine Sea Scallops looked good enough to eat but unfortunately I left just a little room for the wonderful desserts so I will have to return to Heirloom for another dinner. You can find more information about Heirloom on the web.  

After dinner we walked to the Shubert Theater to see the Mark Morris Dance Group. Since its opening in 1914, the Shubert Theater has earned the title “Birthplace of the Nation's Greatest Hits” for the number of world and American premieres that debuted on its legendary stage. Situated just down the block from Yale University and the New Haven Green, the Shubert Theater is encompassed by alluring restaurants, including the Heirloom, cafes, shops and world-class museums. Operated by CAPA, the not-for-profit Shubert Theater offers a variety  performances for every taste and budget. 
PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE, at the Shubert Box Office, 
or call 203.562.5666 for information. 









New Haven and its Department of Cultural Affairs is a leader in its support of cultural institutions . It has enabled supporting cultural institutions, individual artists, the creative industries and creative entrepreneurs, with  grants to support, Project Storefronts, strategically shaping the social, physical and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city or region around arts and cultural activities. 

Last year under their Pilot Program, four businesses tested their ideas at 71 Orange Street in downtown’s Ninth Square. These businesses succeeded in changing what had been a series of seven dark, empty retail spaces into lively, well-lit filled destinations both day and night. 

Applications for new businesses are continuously being sought and reviewed. For more information on the web ProjectStorefront.asp or www.projectstorefrontsnewhaven.com or by calling 203-727-7280.

The International Festival of Arts and Entertainment taking place on the New Haven Green has a plethora of talent to add to the talent and accomplishment which will draw me back this wonderful city….New Haven.

Reviewed by  Joyce Hauser


Big birthday for a Seattle Icon

Seattle’s Space Needle has reached a golden milestone and the partying has just begun.
Built for the city’s 1962 World’s Fair, the sleek and shiny Needle turned 50 on April 21. Now Seattle’s signature symbol, the centerpiece of events capitalizing on the fair’s 50th anniversary. Concerts, film and music festivals, and exhibits are scheduled through Oct. 21.
The Needle is celebrating with two special events.  First the contest:  Space Race 2012, more than 50,000 contestants have applied for a shot at a half-hour suborbital flight.  The family-owned Needle is teaming up with Space Adventures, a private tourism company, for the giveaway, worth $110,000. The winner was announced May 9 with the flight’s date to be determined.
Another highlight is a new pavilion showcasing the art of celebrated glass sculptor and Seattle resident Dale Chihuly. Opening May 21, Chihuly Garden and Glass will feature works from some of Chihuly’s most popular series and architectural installations. 
Meanwhile, the Needle is bracing for an anticipated rise in visitors.  The 605-foot-high Needle is Seattle’s top tourist magnet, drawing some 1.3 million visitors a year.
From the ground, the Needle looks like a flying saucer perched on a gargantuan tripod. From its observation deck, views of downtown, PugetSound and surrounding mountains are incomparable whether it’s sunny or – more likely – cloudy in our nation’s’ rain capital.
Arts & Leisure News Service also recommends dining in SkyCity, the Needle’s first-rate restaurant.  The menu touts Pacific Northwest dishes, from beef short ribs to Dungeness crabs. All emphasize fresh, local ingredients and are prepared with flair. Don’t miss the Lunar Orbiter, a dessert blending ice cream and dry ice that appears ready to blast off from your table. It was first served during the 1962 World’s Fair and is still popular. Diners also are treated to delectable views as the restaurant slowly revolves with the added sensation of floating on air.
 The Space Needle is open daily. General admission is $19; $12 children.  For information, call (800) 937-9582; www.spaceneedle.com. For information about Dale Chihuly:  www.chihulygardenandglass.com.
Reviewed by Victor Zak
   
PUERTO RICO

In this age of information overload and seemingly endless deadlines, quality “vacation time” seems to take a back seat to our busy life. Usually the excuse is that all great vacations are so far away. If that is your problem you can start packing because I just got back from an amazing seven days in Puerto Rico. I can’t understand why it took me so long to experience this delightful island. Few places can boast of such wonderful beaches, fine hotels, the rain forest, and wonderful cuisine. Imagine lying on a white sandy beach looking or swimming in beautiful blue water and sipping pina colada, made with cream of coconut, Puerto Rican rum and pineapple juice, and you don’t have to spend the whole day traveling to enjoy it.

 Join me in the next few days as I take you on a trip to Puerto Rico and especially Old San Juan. Looking beyond the suntanned tourists enjoying the sunshine on the beaches, you’ll see a Caribbean countryside of small, colorful towns filled with people from different parts of the world—always ready with a smile and greeting. The Puerto Rican people are friendly and passionate about their country.

Wear comfortable shoes and get ready to marvel at this wonderful island with a combination of a historical legacy and its beautiful bustling life.  In this report I will try to acquaint you with the area and suggestions of what to see, where to stay and what to eat. 

The following hotels are recommended:

Verdanza Hotel is a superb location and contemporary chic in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a member of the Summit Hotels & Resorts collection of Preferred Hotel Groups. The Verdanza Hotel offers 222 guestrooms, including 60 rooms fronting on the pool area, and 9 guest suites. You can choose from three signature restaurants providing culinary menus. Take advantage of their new Wine & Tapas Bar, DiVino, featuring over 40 wine labels by the glass, tastings and Weekly wines. 

Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club, Rio Grande is nestled in a two-mile sandy beach in the northern coast of the island of Puerto Rico. The resort is the first in the Caribbean to be awarded with the Signature Sanctuary certification by Audubon International. Stunning views of the beach and the El Yunque rainforest is a wonderful backdrop for their challenging golf course. 

Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, (A Wyndham Grand Resort) , is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the El Yunque Caribbean National Forest in a lush hideaway on the “Isle of Enchantment”. With 500 acres of Flora & Fauna and a multitude of activities the Rio Mar has two championship golf courses (36 holes), tennis complex, Spa and comprehensive family programs. Created to pamper and impress.

Conrad at San Juan Condado Plaza is located on the Condado Strip overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Condado Lagoon and just five minutes to historic Old San Juan. It is located near museums, historic landmarks and a busy nightlife. 

El Conquistador & Golden Door Spa was voted the top Caribbean Spa by readers of Caribbean Travel and Life and the Best Spa for treatments by Conde’ Nast Traveler. The Golden Door has 25 treatment rooms and a staff-to-guest ratio of 4-to-one. Their 6,662-yard golf course changes in elevation providing breathtaking vistas to add to elevate the game. 

All five hotels are equipped to make your celebration entering into marriage a wondrous occasion. 

More information on each of the hotels can be found on their Web Site. 

Puerto Rican cuisine is eclectic and will satisfy the pickiest eaters. The coffee is considered by Europeans to be the best coffee in the world. Although food from the Island is prepared with a multiplicity of richly varied spices and condiments, Puerto Ricans tend to season their food more subtly than one might imagine. 

Following are some suggested Restaurants:

Augusto’s Restaurant is recognized by Arts & Leisure News as The Best Restaurant in Puerto Rico.  With its European flair Augusto’s fine cuisine and service has been recognized as the foremost white tablecloth restaurant on the Island.  Let me share with you the menu that we indulged in: Starting with: Coral Cod Tartare with Avocado Mousse and Red Pepper Crocant, then Seared Boat Scallops with Turnip Puree and Chorizo Espuma, continuing our third course, Egg Toasted Potato Gnocchi and Thyme Pumpkin Sauce, and then our main course, Veal Osso Buco Lasagna with Black Truffle Emulsion. Wonderful coffee and Nougatine Souffle with Vanilla Ice-Cream ended the meal.  Bravo to Chef Ariel Rodriguez an ambassador to the Puerto Rican Culinary industry.
Pikayo Restaurant
This is an ideal place to go for the next generation of Puerto Rican fusion cuisine. Pikayo not only keeps up with the latest culinary trends, but it also often sets them, thanks to the inspired guidance of owner and celebrity chef Wilo Benet. Formal but not stuffy, and winner of many culinary awards. It is the best Museum restaurant in Puerto Rico featuring a mixed cuisine. 
Palio Restaurant 
Indulge yourself with superior service and delicious cuisine in Palio’s Italian Restaurant. Combining an elegant setting with good food will leave you with an unforgettable dining experience. 
The three restaurants need reservations.

Art flourishes with craft workers, musicians, composers, playwrights and painters, sculptors and actors in Puerto Rico. For one The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico houses the finest collection of art in Puerto Rico, representing important schools of painting and sculpture for Europe and the Americas – including a sizable sample of works by Puerto Rican artists. Although many of Puerto Rico’s best accomplishments haves been in the folk arts, the arts has been expanded into many other areas, with today’s artisans producing a great variety of paintings, non-religious sculpture, jewelry and many collectibles and artifacts. 

The Museo de Arte Puerto Rico opened its doors in the summer of 2000. The impressive stained-glass back window that runs the height of its five stories accentuates the contemporary design. The museum also constantly brings in exciting new exhibits that make for worthwhile repeat visits, whether it is avant-garde pieces or art from the pre-colonial era. 

After enjoying the galleries, visitors might want to head outside into the sculpture gardens, accessible from the 2nd floor. This natural exhibit space boasts hundreds of thousands of plants, including 26 species of trees. Back inside the building, the 2nd floor is also the site of the ActivArte Gallery, a learning space for children with interactive activities such as a labyrinth, art puzzles, and informative computer programs. Their gift shop is excellent and it is a worthwhile look before you leave.


Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with its sandy beaches and brightly colored flowers. Delicious fruits and nuts hang from the trees and tiny little iguanas hop around the trees. The background has mountains that stretch across the island and the rain forest adds to the beauty of this island. 

If you are interested in being part of this landscape you might be interested in the government’s implementation of its “Strategic Model for a New Economy.” Governor Luis G. Fortuno has signed into law two key bills that are designed to support increased investment in the Island’s tourism industry. According to the “Tourism Development Act of Puerto Rico” in order to facilitate new or upgraded tourism projects on the Island, the government of Puerto Rico has created a series of tax credits and exemptions for investors. For more information go to Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Fortuno’s Web Site.

Reviewed by: Joyce  Hauser

 


Gardens of Bliss in Giverny
Claude Monet is renowned for a passion that forged a new style of painting in the late 1800s: capturing fleeting impressions of nature and light effects.  He brought a similar inventiveness to gardening.  His gardens in Giverny,  a French village about 45 miles northwest of Paris, became his natural canvas and inspired some of his most celebrated artworks. Today, they are a shrine for some half-million annual visitors from around the world.                
Going there is like stepping into one of his masterpieces come to life.  Familiar hallmarks include a Japanese bridge and tranquil lily ponds. A 2 ½-acre field called Clos Normand features a Grand Allee, covered with nasturtiums and purple asters. Walls of flowers cram this area, including roses, irises, starlike dahlias, hollyhocks and giant sunflowers.               
The gardens are in line with Monet’s plans while he and his family lived there from 1883 to his death in 1926 at age 86. But many changes have occurred since the site opened to the public in 1980. Now, more than 100,000 plants are produced each year and continually rotated. The result is a wonderland of colors and fragrances that change with seasons. Blue and mauve irises dominate in spring, yielding to red and pink roses and peonies in summer.  Fall brings a final gasp of red, gold and orange splendor. The aim is to dazzle visitors and it sure does.
Monet’s home is a simple, two-story pink house restored to look like it did during his lifetime. On view are family photos, more than 200 Japanese prints and some original furniture.  But don’t expect to see his paintings. A gallery is filled with mostly mediocre reproductions. Still, it captures Monet’s spirit and the flavor of his era.
You can savor it all in about two hours while dodging nonstop crowds. But there’s more to do here.  Arts & Leisure News Service recommends an overnight stay. That allows time to explore the nooks and crannies of tidy Giverny village; stop at the Church of St. Radegonde, where Monet and family members are interred; and visit the Museum of Impressionism, which spotlights the origins of that art movement.
The village has several restaurants. Don’t miss Hotel Baudy, which once hosted  Pierre Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne and Auguste Rodin.  It serves simple, traditional French meals in richly atmospheric rooms. I stayed in La Musardiere, a charming 10-room hotel that started as a manor house in 1880. Continental breakfast is included and its restaurant offers lunch and dinner.
For your plans in 2012 The Museum of Claude Monet is open daily from April through October.  For information: www.fondation-monet.com.fr/uk/  For  information about Giverny:  www.giverny.fr

Reviewed by Victor Zak








 







 

 

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